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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mighty Numbers For Voice-Acting

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Also, I just realized that when Mighty No. 9 asked for $900,000 originally, it was a pun.

One day, I'm going to have a bigger, general discussion article on voice-acting in videogames.

Until then, Comcept, famous for being the developers of Mighty No. 9, the Mega Man-inspired sidescroller coming out on every system in 2015 — and we happened to have discussed it here, is asking for another $100,000 in a new Kickstarter funding campaign. The stretch goal (by the way, there aren't any real goals, just stretch ones) is $100,000 for English voice-acting. That's the only goal we know of so far.

Oh, but apparently as of like two days ago that's now $200,000 for English and Japanese voice-acting. So if this isn't funded, I guess all the characters are just gonna be mute!

Replaced the image with a permanent one. Just over $9,000!

We give people a lot of shit for being bad with their crowd-funding budgets. Let's look at Mighty No. 9.

For $900,000 we got the game. And then all these:

They got way more money than they asked for, so they pretty much made up random goals as they went along. But we can safely say, according to Comcept, that every goal up there is more important than the characters being able to talk. Stages? Sure. Without those extra two stages it'd be based off Mega Man and not Mega Man 2. And that would be a terrible thing.

Mac/Linux more important than voice-acting? No way. But that's just me. So a New Game Plus and a Turbo Mode? That does sound like it would definitely enhance the game's longevity. By the way, these stretch goals by themselves incrementally ask for more money than entire projects. Luna's Tale: Curse of the Forgotten Doll (which I guess shouldn't get italics anymore since it's not a real game...) only asked for $35,000 for the whole project. And unfortunately it failed to achieve that despite KoopaTV's support.

So then we get to the documentary. "The Smash Brothers" documentary, which you must watch if you haven't, cost $12,000 altogether. And that covered a decade of Super Smash Bros. community history across the United States. Meanwhile, this Mighty No. 9 documentary is budgeted at $250,000 and covers 2 years or so of... game development in an office. Which isn't really that exciting on most days. How is this possibly more important than voice-acting?

So there's a boss rush mode... Well, Mega Man has those embedded into the story. And then we get the game on the Wii U, which is very, very important. So then there is a Challenge Mode. Apparently this is like the one from New Super Mario Bros. U with the mini-challenges. Well, those were sort of fun. So then (this is rather repetitive) an extra stage and a boss... and then online co-op mode! Well, online co-op IS expensive to do and design. When you have an offline game and suddenly put in online, that's a huge investment on your part.

Then we have an intro stage and its own boss. Like Mega Man X. So now we've gotten an extra end stage and an extra intro stage. And then we get another new stage, but with Call, Beck's partner. So it might be sort of like the Rayman Legends Murphy stage in terms of something different. The list goes on for more systems, a "support character" we know nothing about, a worse soundtrack, and an "online battle race mode" to see how you complete stages faster.

All of the above is supposedly more important than giving the characters voice-acting. And this voice-acting is really, really pricy. $100,000 for voice-acting in a sidescroller? Think back to Mega Man 2 and think how many opportunities there were for characters to talk. Well, we kind of already have that with Mega Man Powered Up on the PSP.

So voice-acting at the beginning and end of stages plus grunts. That's not that many clips, but it sure helps the audience to be immersed with the game's world. Otherwise it's like their player character and the bosses are soulless automatons. And that doesn't help a character's popularity. It's like if that red-hatted plumber didn't scream "WAHOO" in his games lately. Most people find that endearing. Personally, I find it sickening he's having so much fun while killing my brethren.

According to an apologist over at the Mighty No. 9 site, Comcept would be hiring professional voice-actors that charge $100 per minute. That's an outrageous price, much more costly than George Zimmerman's legal defense which was $400 per hour for Mark O'Mara and $350 per hour for Don West. But even so, according to that apologist's source,
"As with cartoons, narration and character acting both come into play for video game voice-overs. The suggested rate for this type of voice-over work is $100 per minute, or $1500 for a 45-minute recording."
Well $1500 over 45 minutes is only 1/3 of $100 per minute. Still, lets say that the 13 or so characters that will have professional voice-acting all take 45 minutes. Which is ridiculous, but let's say that. That's less than $20,000 if you take 13 times $1500. So even with those ridiculous rates... why do you need $100,000? What the hell is Inafune DOING? This is shady exploitation of the massively-depressed Mega Man fanbase.

And spending that much on voice-acting for the sake of it being "professional" is flat-out stupid and wasteful. "Professional" doesn't mean better. For proof, look at the random Capcom employees who voiced the Ace Attorney characters before Dual Destinies.

...By the way, I like to think my own voice-acting in Trayvon Tyson's Punch-Out!! was spectacular. Have you heard it yet?

Ludwig is an unprofessional voice-actor, an unprofessional writer, and just generally unprofessional as he goes about his day. For more instances of his lack of professionalism, read around KoopaTV and/or Follow him at Miiverse at NNID PrinceOfKoopas!

Progress report on Mighty No. 9 a year later. Yes, still not out yet, and is in fact delayed to 2016!
You think voice actors charge too much? They want even more and are going to strike over it.
Mighty No. 9 is releasing mid-2016 and is widely hated.
It's released, and the sub-titles aren't even finished. Also, the characters’ lips don't even move.
With the high cost of voice-acting, what value does it bring to gaming?


  1. For me, voice acting is a pretty low priority, so I don't mind it being last after everything. XD I am a little concerned about this turn of events--but for me, the announcement of an animated TV show before the game is even out to see if it's a hit, is more worrying than the new campaign. Lots of crowdfunded projects have kept Paypal open for later backers. If people want to contribute to a whole separate campaign for Might No. 9 stuff, it doesn't bother me.

  2. Unless, of course, it ends up interfering with the development/release of the game.

    1. Oh, I didn't mention it, but I think the animated TV show is an awesome idea.

    2. But is it a good idea to announce a TV show based on a game before the game is even out? It'll probably be fine, since this is Mighty No. 9, but it doesn't seem like a good practice.

    3. Well, yeah, that's what they did with... uh... Pac-Man Ghostly Adventures.

      The game is going to be front-loaded in terms of excitement, so add the show to milk the concept during its peak excitement.
      Makes sense to me.

    4. I suppose... It still feels like overconfidence to me.

    5. Anyway, I really liked the Mega Man cartoon.


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